It is well known that a balanced diet is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. However, certain populations, such as pregnant people, the elderly and those who are seriously ill, may not be able to consume a variety of nutritious foods or have higher nutrient requirements. In these cases, vitamin and mineral supplements can help fill nutritional gaps. Vitamins are essential for the growth and function of immune cells.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwis, among others. Vitamin D is also important for maintaining immune tolerance and shaping responses. Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the release of reactive oxygen species by monocytes and the expression of CD11b and antigen 4 (VLA), which helps reduce the adhesion of monocytes to the endothelium.
Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to a reduced number of IgA+ ASC in the small gut. Additionally, vitamin A or synthetic RAR agonists may play a role in improving immune responses in the intestine.Although supplements may offer a small benefit to immune health, they should not be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet consisting of a variety of vitamins and minerals combined with adequate sleep, exercise and stress reduction will prepare the body more effectively to fight infections and diseases.